Volunteering with Children: 10 Ways to Encourage Kids to Give Back
The ability of young people to help change the world for the better has been a source of joy and hope for me for many years. If you’ve ever been a reader of my blog or a follower of my work, you know how passionate I am about shining a spotlight on young people who are focused on making the world a little brighter, a little kinder, a little better for everyone.
Because I believe so strongly in the ability of young people to influence positive changes in the world around them, I’m often asked about ways to guide young volunteers, or about what sorts of initiatives might inspire or encourage today’s youth. Of course, there are so many ways to help our communities, our fellow creatures, and even our Earth itself, that there’s no single ‘right path’ to help change things for the better. What I can say, however, is that as a parent of 5 energetic young people, when it comes to inspiring them to take action I’ve found there’s no substitute for getting “hands-on” with a cause they are passionate about!
Encouraging young people to harness their energy in the form of volunteering is one of the most valuable actions you can take toward creating a better future for your children, with your children. But don’t overlook our role as adults! By volunteering along with our children, we as guardians give kids the tools they need to help make the world better. Not only does our support set a good example but the process of finding a cause to make their own is a marvelous chance to expose kids to real-life heroes, not simply the high-profile celebrities who dominate today’s media.
If you’re looking for a starting point to help spark a desire to explore and help improve the world, here is a short list of ideas that might be a great fit for the energetic young person in your life.
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids with National Organizations
The Tree Campus K–12 program with the Arbor Day Foundation inspires tree stewards in the next generation through experiences that bring the benefits of trees to life both inside and outside the classroom.
Habitats for Humanity’s Habitat Youth Programs instill a love of volunteering from an early age by providing a variety of volunteer opportunities for those ages 5 to 40.
Help end the African book famine by volunteering at one of Books for Africa’s warehouses.
The “youth-led movement for good,” DoSomething.org, gives teens the opportunity to make an impact, win scholarships, and earn volunteer credits.
More Ideas for Volunteering with Children
- Volunteer at a local nursing home or assisted living facility.
- Read stories to younger children at schools, daycares, libraries, or churches.
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood.
- Volunteer to shelve books at a local library.
- Participate in a park clean-up event.
- Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
- Start a community garden.
- Offer to rake leaves, pick up sticks, or mow the lawn of a neighbor.
- Collect coats and give to a homeless shelter in winter.
- Place bird feeders in the yard for local wild birds.
Creating young heroes isn’t all that difficult. Young people already combine the energy and idealism of childhood and the realistic awareness of adulthood. What’s more, young people want the truth and nothing but the truth. They are honest enough to ask life’s toughest questions. And they still have the courage to hope. To them, anything is possible.